The governor is making no bones about what he wants: bills to permanently ban private employer vaccine mandates & fortify the state’s Parents’ Bill of Rights. State laws to opt out of federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) regulation, disqualify employers who mandate vaccinations from liability protections, & to allow those harmed by vaccinations to sue their employers
Florida has already banned vaccine and mask mandates by executive order. A 2021 State Department of Health rule, a 2021 bill and its interpretation of a ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights,’ was also adopted in 2021. The governor wants all further policies to be encoded into law along with available funding to challenge the Biden Administration across an variety of expanding fronts.
DeSantis spoke, “In Florida, we believe the decision whether or not to receive a COVID vaccination shot is a choice based on individual circumstances, so we are litigating against the Biden administration and will be passing legislation in this special session to protect Florida jobs and protect parents’ rights when it comes to masking and quarantines.”
Last week, Florida joined at least another 11 states in challenging the Biden Administration’s covid vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The state is currently engaged in a series of legal and regulatory battles with federal agencies over COVID-19 restrictions on cruise ships, immigration policies, Medicaid funding and elections laws. The state is also embroiled in an effort to dock school districts for violating mask mandates. The U.S. Department of Education is currently awarding grants to school districts for doing so.
Despite Republicans who hold a 24-16 Senate advantage and overwhelming 78-42 House majority, doubts still remain that Governor DeSantis will get all he wants during the special session.
Florida Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mark Wilson told reporters last week its members were “very interested in the conversation” but “we’re not asking for legislation.”
“We’ve always been against government mandating what business can do and can’t do,’’Wilson said.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, said in a Friday public statement that they’re eager to address Biden‘s “illegal and unconstitutional” vaccine mandate, but also support state businesses.
House Speaker-designate Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast, who chairs the House Rules Committee, said last week many Republicans have no desire to tell employers how to run their businesses, including Disney, which now enforces an employee vaccine mandate.
“Probably nobody’s going to be happy in the end” Renner predicted during the annual Florida TaxWatch meeting on Oct. 28. “The people on the side of ‘vaccinate or terminate’ are unhappy. And the people that are on the side of, ‘I can tell my employer what the terms of my employment are and if I get sick they have to pay for it,’ probably aren’t going to be happy, either.”
House Minority Co-Leader Rep. Evan Jenne, D-Dania Beach, said Monday in Tallahassee some Republicans are having a hard time stomaching everything DeSantis is dishing out.
“I have a feeling that some business entities that may be quite important to folks in this building have said, ‘Hey, we don’t appreciate what you’re doing here,’” Jenne said. “So I think you’re going to see everything scales back a little bit.” ✪